A leper. A cripple. A sinner. A man possessed by devils. A bleeding woman. A dead girl. All persons whose paths crossed Jesus. All broken. All dirty. By the standards of ordinary people, all untouchable.
But Jesus is no ordinary person.
The Son of God came into the world to touch it. To transform it. To make all things new. He wasn’t disgusted by our “stuff.” He didn’t avoid it, instead he touched it and made it clean.
This collection of sermons from the gospel of Mark are about those who needed a touch the most – those who were avoided, were reviled, who were written off by the world. But Jesus reached out to them and changed their lives forever, something he’s still in the business of doing today.
“Jesus reached out and touched him.” (Mark 1:41)
There’s something special about the season of Advent. It’s a season of preparation, a season of waiting. It’s the time of the year where we begin to prepare ourselves to celebrate the coming of the Lord. It’s a season that is pregnant with promise. Promise for hope. Promise for peace. For love and for joy. For God to make things new once more. And so we wait.
The Bible encourages us to “wait upon the Lord.” This is a special kind of waiting. It means “waiting with hope,” not “wait and see what happens.” It is not just the passing of time. It is anticipation. We have God’s promises to anticipate. He cares for us. His plans are good, not evil, toward us. We can trust Him. He keeps His promises.
Christmas declares “God always keeps his promises.” In His way, in His time. He asks us to wait…with hope. He promises to return. He promises to come into our heart. He promises us pleasant surprises.
“You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!” (Luke 1:31-33)
The final command of Jesus to those who desire to follow him was to go. To the ends of the earth. To be his witnesses. Simple, right?
Sometimes the simplest things can be the hardest things to do.
As Christ’s witnesses, empowered by the Spirit, we are to follow the example of our Lord and go. He hasn’t asked for our good intentions. He has asked for our whole lives, surrendered to him and his purposes, and to go and be his people for his sake in the world.
Our work is a continuation of his work. To go and to share all possible truth with all possible people in all possible ways. Connecting the whole gospel to the whole world with our whole strength.
“And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere.” (Acts 1:8)
What would happen if the people of God were fully committed to the work of God in the world? What would happen if when we prayed, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done,” we meant it with sincerity of heart? What if we laid aside our own dreams, desires, and ambitions and allowed God to replace them with his own?
To answer these questions, we will be looking to the book of Nehemiah. We will catch a glimpse of what it looks like when God’s vision and burden becomes our own, what it looks like when people come together for a cause bigger than themselves, and what will happen when church culture is exchanged for Kingdom culture.
When God is at work, there is nothing that cannot be accomplished. (re)building will be examining the limitless potential for God’s kingdom when the power of His word is coupled with the enthusiasm of committed individuals.
What does a life of faith look like? As Christians, we are told that we are to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7), but how does that become more than a nice platitude? How does that inform every aspect of our lives? How do we be a people who press on as the people of God, even when things are hard, or when the future is uncertain, or when we have settled into the numbing monotony of day to day life?
Fortunately for us, the pastor who wrote the letter to the Hebrews had a thing or two to say about these questions. He knew the circumstances of his hearers – how they went through all sorts of various trials and difficulties – and he cared enough for their lives that he spoke into their situations and offered them the hope that only comes from Christ, the “author and perfecter of our faith” (Heb. 12:2).
This sermon series is about what it means to be a people of faith. By learning from that “great cloud of witnesses,” those ancient faithful, we will see more clearly the nature of the faith the pastor who wrote Hebrews would have his hearers emulate. Their reliance upon the word of God and perseverance through whatever they faced will become a motivation for us to press on and persevere in the present today.